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Can I Be Fired for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

 Posted on January 05, 2023 in Workers' Compensation

Santa Clara County, CA workers' compensation lawyerIn workers’ compensation cases, there are too many employers who sometimes decide to discourage employees from filing for the benefits afforded to them under the California workers’ compensation program. Demoting employees or threatening to fire those who file a claim for benefits are some of the tactics these unscrupulous employers may use. An injured employee who finds themselves in this situation should know that there may be legal assistance available to ensure he receives both the workers’ compensation benefits as well as additional compensation for the employer’s actions.

Understanding Retaliation

Firing an employee because he filed for workers’ compensation is called “retaliation.” Under California law, retaliation is unlawful, and California courts have recognized an employee’s right to seek compensation for an employer’s retaliation. This right is in addition to any other fines that may be levied against the employer by governmental agencies for the same conduct. The rights are provided to employees because retaliatory discharge is considered to be against public policy.

An employer may try to pressure an employee into quitting by refusing to modify the employee’s duties to accommodate their injuries, or the company may fail to pay any temporary workers’ compensation benefits. The employer may even reassign the employee to a less desirable position or require the employee to reapply for a position. These actions aimed at forcing the employee to resign instead of being discharged could be just as unlawful as retaliatory discharge. If the California Labor Commission analyzes the employer’s conduct and decides that the behavior was particularly aimed at making the employee’s situation so bad that the employee would quit or fail to file for workers’ compensation benefits, the Commission could seek punitive damages from the employer.

Overcoming the Challenges

A dispute between the employee’s medical team and the employer’s doctors as to the degree of an employee’s injuries should also be resolved before an employer takes action against the employee for failing to return to work. If the employee’s doctor says the employee still has to complete treatment, the employer should seek clarification on the matter before firing the employee. The California Division of Workers’ Compensation Commission, along with your attorney, can help resolve these conflicts.

Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to prove a retaliatory discharge. If the employer can provide a credible reason other than retaliation for having fired the employee, the employer may be able to refute the employee’s claim. This should not discourage you from filing a claim, and you should assess your options after consulting with a qualified workers’ compensation attorney.

Contact a Gilroy Workers’ Comp Attorney for Legal Assistance

If you were injured in a workplace accident, you deserve to receive the workers’ compensation benefits promised under the law. If you are an injured employee, contact the experienced Santa Clara County workers’ compensation lawyers at Cramer + Martinez for a free consultation. Call 408-848-1113 today.


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